The FBHVC monthly report

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The Federation of British Historic Vehicle Clubs represents our interests nationally, fighting for those who enjoy using their Classic Cars.

Robin Astle, our Club's FBHVC representative gives a monthly report on what's going on.

Robin Astle

May 2018

by Robin Astle.

Extracts from FBHVC 2018 Newsletter No 1

UK Legislation by Bob Owen

Clean Air Legislation

We did respond to the two consultations I mentioned in the last Newsletter. In both of our responses we emphasised the insignificant actual effect on the environment of historic vehicles and therefore the limited benefits to be obtained by excluding them from clear air zones.

The Oxford Zero Emissions Zone consultation was not to approve or object to specific proposals but was designed alert planners to factors which might influence future legislation. The intention signalled was to introduce actual prohibitions at first in central Oxford, and in due course a wider area, on any vehicles not powered by electricity. This approach could have massively adverse effects on residents of the area who own historic vehicles and would also have perhaps unforeseen impacts on Oxford. We decided that we had to widen the approach we have taken. We thus covered in our comments not only forty year old vehicles entitled to be in the ‘historic’ class, but those over thirty years old, that is to say in line with the FIVA definition of what is a historic vehicle. And for the first time we offered for consideration the possibility of permits, both for residents and for vehicles visiting Oxford for heritage and cultural events which might benefit the economy of the city.

The Scottish Government has issued a consultation on ‘Building Scotland’s LEZs’. As mentioned in the last issue, the proposal prefers exclusion of traffic rather than charging schemes such as are proposed and indeed in effect in England. They do envisage a possible historic vehicle exemption, and, as the importance of exemption is increased significantly by a ban, a vehicle owner cannot simply choose to pay to travel within the zone. We therefore raised the possibility of exempting vehicles over thirty rather than forty years old and raised the question of permits.

We will keep you aware of the reactions, if any, which we get to these proposals and will make sure the historic vehicle community is not forgotten as stakeholders.

And consultations now come thick and fast.

We responded to a consultation on possible economic aspects of clean air zones. This consultation sought opinion on the question of scrappage schemes, which gave us a chance to request that any scheme should require special measures before a vehicle which is more than thirty years old is scrapped. The consultation also gave us an opportunity to emphasise the heritage and cultural importance of historic vehicles and their potential for creating economic benefits for the country, and again to suggest that, where exclusion rather than charging zones are being proposed, a cut-off date of thirty rather than forty years old should be considered.

And on a more local level,

(a)Transport for London is consulting on a tidying up of its ULEZ proposals, and

(b)Leeds is commencing examination of its own Clean Air Zone proposals.

In each case we will be making the case for sympathetic treatment of historic vehicles.

DVLA by Ian Edmunds

As intimated in my last notes we attended one of our regular liaison meetings with DVLA at the end of November last year. As is always the case this was a useful and productive day which on this occasion commenced with a tour of the relevant sections of the DVLA operation. This was provided for the benefit of Emma to give her an insight into the workings of DVLA but proved to be of interest and indeed useful to all of us.

We learned that DVLA receive three mail deliveries per day with a total of around 80,000 items and of these 15,000 to 20,000 are Royal Mail Special Delivery. This is the greatest number of any recipient. Every one of these items is X-rayed on receipt before being distributed to the appropriate area. Our guide re-emphasised the importance of the postcode in ensuring the mail is correctly distributed within DVLA. The relevant ones are listed below. From this it follows that any one envelope should only contain papers relevant to one operation, i.e. only one vehicle registration or only one driving licence, as each needs to be directed to a different department within DVLA. The further point was made that if an application is rejected for any reason and the papers returned with an addressed envelope for a reapplication this should always be used as the information in the address will ensure it returns to the correct member of staff.

We were introduced to the managers of each section who outlined their objectives and the procedures used to assess the performance not only of individuals but also of the system as a whole. As a part of this process we were shown a board displaying notes on current known problems amongst which we were very gratified to see issues we have raised.

I think everybody, both within DVLA and amongst the historic vehicle community, are aware that registration applications do not proceed entirely to plan in every instance, but we should perhaps remember two things. The first being the 80,000 items of mail per day and the second is, please believe me, DVLA are making considerable and well organised efforts to get it right.

The meeting proper commenced with a brief presentation of the DVLA systems upgrade. This is a massive task which involves not only bringing all the IT operations within DVLA but also updating what are, in some cases, very old procedures to current practice. Obviously whilst this is going on the day-to-day operations of DVLA have to continue so progress has to be slow and careful.

Make and Model Entry into DVLA Database:

We were able to reiterate the concerns about the current inability to manually enter ‘model’ information on to the system during the first registration of a historic vehicle.

Preservation of DVLA Records:

We also received a very emphatic assurance that the microfiche registration records that DVLA hold will be retained and in fact have recently been rehoused in a more up-to-date drum type filing system.

Trader Handbook

Some time ago a gentleman from a member club raised a question concerning the ‘Trader Handbook Diary and Garage Reference Book’. This book was published annually from about 1903 up to at least the Second World War. It was a very ambitious attempt to provide the burgeoning motor trade with all the information it could possibly need in one book, including a desk diary. The contents varied from year to year over that period. A contemporary description of the book read thus:

A Useful Reference Book.

‘The Trader Handbook, Diary and Garage Reference Book’ for 1932 is a most useful publication, which includes specifications of all types of motor vehicle on the British market and other handy information, such as Empire and foreign import duties. A new feature is a guide to makers and suppliers of garage and workshop equipment.

It is published by the Trader Publishing Co., Ltd., St. Bride's House, Salisbury Square, London, E.C.4, at the price of 10s. 6d., post free.

The feature that interests us here is that from the early 1920s up to 1931 a list of chassis/frame numbers and production dates for motorcycles, cars and commercial vehicles was included. The Federation has been able to view a 1926 edition of the book and the introduction to this section, which is entitled ‘Tracing the year of manufacture’, makes it clear that the source of the published data was the manufacturers themselves. Unfortunately, not all manufacturers saw it as in their interest to supply the information. Each annual publication repeated the information from previous years.

It should be remembered that the first Glass’s Check Book for cars appeared in 1933 with commercial vehicles following in 1937 and motorcycles in 1946. Thus, although far from comprehensive, the ‘Trader’ handbook would add a useful amount of knowledge relevant to the earlier vehicles.

DVLA have agreed to accept data from the Trader Handbook in a similar way to that from Glass’s Check Books for vehicle dating purposes.

Use of V888 for Historic Research

I mentioned in my notes in the last Newsletter that DVLA are no longer able to provide the registration history of a vehicle for research purposes in response to a V888 request. This was discussed further with DVLA who confirmed that the advice they received as a Government Agency was that this disclosure of personal data will not be permitted under the General Data Protection Regulation and thus they have no choice in the matter. This is in line with FBHVC’s understanding of the Regulation and while the demise of this service is a regrettable loss to the historic vehicle community, it is unfortunately unavoidable.

Age Related Registrations – Format

DVLA explained that when selecting age-related registrations for issue to historic vehicles they always take the first date that a particular format of registration mark was available as the start date for that format, even though in period changes tended to be phased in across the country due to some areas registering more vehicles that others. They also reminded us that they work on one batch of unissued VRMs at a time and are not able to allocate them by area. This does mean that they are unable to accept our longstanding request that they extend the date after which registrations issued will consist of numbers before letters.

Q Plate Matters

In addition to the use of Q plates for radically altered vehicles which do not pass the ‘Eight Point Rule’, if it is not possible to provide satisfactory proof of age for a vehicle or if the history of a vehicle is unclear a Q plate is issued. It has always been the policy that any appeal against the issue of a Q plate must be made by the registered keeper no more than one year after its issue. However, over a period of time these restrictions have been relaxed.

DVLA have now formally advised that the appeal period will be strictly enforced. This is partly due to the fact that for some of the older issues there are no records of the reasons for the decision which makes their review almost impossible. Whilst completely understanding that situation FBHVC stated that some Q plates were originally issued for convenience and keepers may now wish to change them. Discussions on this aspect continue.

In reply to a question DVLA clearly stated that after 40 years a Q plated vehicle is entitled to become ‘historic’. The first Q plates were issued in 1983, so assuming the current rules continue, 2023 will be the first year a Q plated vehicle becomes eligible for the historic tax class and nil Vehicle Excise Duty.

DVLA Sections and Post Codes

First registration applications for an age related number (imported vehicle, or ‘found vehicle’ with no known previous GB registration number)

First registration team

SA99 1BE

V765 and Reconstructed classic applications

SA99 1ZZ

Changes to a registered vehicle (including date of manufacture)

SA99 1BA

(K&R is Kits and Rebuilds; CCU is Central Capture Unit)



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